Lubbock Woman Leaves Behind Life-Saving Gifts

Canale is no longer with us, but as a registered organ donor she continues to give life. Five of her organs are now doing their job in five strangers.

By Ashley Hinson

LUBBOCK, TX -- Melissa Canale's family remembers her most as a loving wife and dedicated mother.

"She just loved children," said Sherry Grusendorf, Melissa's mom.

Canale eventually became an assistant principal at Atkins Middle school where she took every kid in need under her wing.

"She annonymously deliverd gifts to children who weren't going to have Christmas," said Grusendorf. "Melissa was always that way."

On the evening of December 2, 2010, after delivering nine of those gifts, with a nagging ear ache Canale drove to her mom's house to pick up her son.

"When she came in, her cousin was here visting from Arizona, and she said 'tell Chris I'm going to visit with him in just a minute, I have a splitting headache I've got to lay down for jsut a moment.' It was the last time I spoke to her."

The doctor diagnosed Canale with an ear infection that turned deadly. "It became a superbug and the medication she was taking was feeding the infection," said Grusendorf. "Her ear drum ruptured into her brain and she died of instant brain death. The infection just took over her."

Canale is gone, but as a registered organ donor she continues to give life. Five of her organs are now doing their job in five strangers.

"One was a choir teacher, one was a single mom, one was a school teacher, and it was like Canale had hand picked them," Grusendorf said.

Justin Johnson, the managing director at life gift, makes transplants like Canale's possible. As the 11th annual Donate Life month comes to a close, he hopes people will have that conversation so that when the decision comes, it's already made.

"What is true to us is God doesn't need those organs in heaven, theyr'e needed here to save lives, and that's what we really want to push," said Johnson.

That's what God puts us here for is to make a difference in people's lives," said Grusendorf. "We know Melissa did."

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